Do the effects of chlorofluorocarbons on the atmosphere justify their abandonment from commercial products?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When a hole in the atmospheric ozone layer created worldwide concern over the use of Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) products, initiatives were adopted to phase out all CFCs from commercial and industrial use. The ozone hole has more-or-less closed, and greenhouse-gas worries have shifted to carbon dioxide. However, there are both positives and negatives to the reduction of CFC use.

The major benefits are environmental, which most agree are important enough to warrant action. By stabilizing the ozone layer, the Earth is protected from harsh solar radiation, including ultraviolet light which can cause skin cancer. The impact of CFCs on the greenhouse effect is also diminished, leading to cooler worldwide temperatures. There is also evidence that atmospheric CFCs can cause respiration problems in humans and animals; reducing the overall CFC count can alleviate some of these issues.

One negative is that alternatives to CFCs are more expensive, making it harder to obtain those products in poorer countries. Without access to cheap refrigeration, food spoils quickly, and can cause sickness; meanwhile, when cheap air-conditioning is unavailable, deaths from heatstroke and suffocation rise.

In the end, the most important thing is to keep researching the development of cheap, safe, and efficient alternatives to CFCs. With these alternatives, the environment can be protected and people given a better quality of life. Reducing CFCs forced the study of alternatives, which might have been ignored otherwise.

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